Hawke's Bay 31-26 Northland, ITM Cup
Magpies secure remarkable comeback win
September 15, 2013
Crusaders winger Zac Guildford scored one of the Magpies' three tries
© Getty Images
Hawke's Bay secured a remarkable come-from-behind victory at McLean Park to round out week five of the ITM Cup, the Magpies defeating a Northland side hampered by a late yellow card to playmaker Daniel Hawkins.
Northland looked home and hosed when they led 23-6 at half-time after taking control of the fixture with possession and searing defence. But the visitors departed from their game plan almost as soon as the second half began, electing to kick and protect their lead while tackles that had stuck in the first half began to slip by the hour mark. Hawke's Bay smelled blood and made the most of tiring opponents to reduce the deficit to 23-19 with a quarter of the match to play.
Hawkins kicked another penalty goal and Northland extended their lead to seven points before the fly-half was sin-binned for playing the ball on the ground when Ash Dixon seemed to have scored for Hawke's Bay. The Magpies took advantage of their one-man advantage through tries from Penikolo Latu and Richard Buckman in the final 10 minutes to compound Northland's woes. Ihaia West, quiet and composed for the majority of the match, shone in the final minutes as he landed two key kicks and a game-levelling conversion before Buckman's try saw the Magpies ahead on the ledger.
The victory saw Hawke's Bay secure top spot in the Championship standings, ahead of Tasman having played two extra matches, while Northland moved to third on the log with the bonus point gained in Napier.
Northland had looked set for so much more than a single bonus point when Jake Paringatai opened the scoring after capping a great team move featuring Sonatane Takulua and Rupeni Caucaunibuca, the latter creating an overlap on the blindside to put away the No.8.
West kicked two goals for the Magpies but Roy Griffin extended the lead to 17-6 after Dan Pryor fended off weak tackling to set up a chip-and-chase that bounced kindly for the blindside flanker. Hawkins capped a flawless first half with a dropped goal and a penalty to stretch their lead to 23-6, and the visitors looked good for victory at half-time.
West reduced the margin with two penalty goals, and then Zac Guildford scored from the back of a maul to bring the Magpies within four points with a quarter of the match to play. Hawkins then was sin-binned, and his absence from the defensive line was noticeable as Latu and Buckman crossed to seal a most remarkable come-from-behind victory.